In view of dangers associated with collecting blood for needy patients the Government has come up with the idea of scrapping replacement blood donation system to ensure minimizing the risks of infection. This is certainly a welcome step despite the fact that India faces a major blood supply crisis. About 98 lakh units of blood was collected against the requirement of 1.20 crore units in 2013.
The impending Supreme Court order banning professional blood donations is essential since replacement blood donation is rampantly infamous for questionable body of paid blood donors. This is especially relevant after AIDS has come into the limelight and cynics are responding negatively to such camps. Such camps are increasingly subject to questioning but hopefully things will improve with planned measures.
At the cost of running out of time (deadline December 31, 2014) for phasing out the old system, this new move will certainly end complications for patients. In reality blood donation camps are really firefighting approaches to the problem. The issue has remained unresolved for decades but will get a foothold now. Increased risk of transmission of diseases will be curtailed by ban on paid blood donors.
Blood banks have happily gone ahead dependent on professional donors but alarming figures showing high HIV infection through blood transfusions puts an end to this practice. Additionally inadequate monitoring of blood and reuse of disposable syringes without proper sterilization resulted in disreputable blood banks. Blood may even be taken without waiting for the mandatory three months duration between donations.
Studies have revealed that many such establishments were actually “blood shops” right in the heart of Delhi – our capital city. Further there were inadequate testing and storage facilities too. One can only imagine the situation elsewhere. Perhaps professional blood donors may still operate underground and business may carry on clandestinely.
But the medical fraternity will then have to take stock of the situation and get out of the apathy of working in water tight departments. Essentially medics will have to take on the morality of the issue and adopt a strict stance. In essence this means they will have to stop buying blood from the poor. Also the commission racket that directs patients to blood banks will have to be stopped.
There have been very many such instances, the most infamous being the Bombay Red Cross blood bank, that was closed down after one of its doctors traced 12 HIV infections among thalassaemics to a racket run by employees. Which makes it important to instill values and incorporate more scientifically run institutions to safeguard our blood banks and for them to be considered safe.
The truth is that HIV prevalence is really very high in our country. More than what people might actually admit to. The current graphs show Maharashtra and southern Indian states to have high percentage but that could only be because the northern states may not have adhered to ascertaining due prevalence.
Blood transfusion services are a vital part of healthcare and there is no substitute for human blood. It therefore becomes imperative to enforce stricter control over the quality of blood and its procurement. In order to improve the standards Government has formulated this legislation to ensure better quality control system on collection, storage, testing and distribution of blood and its components.